The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway has announced that they will soon be taking delivery of a Class 144 Pacer train.
After 34 years of service on West Yorkshire’s ‘Big Railway’, Class 144 No. 144011 will transfer from Porterbrook Leasing Company to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.
The Class 144 ‘Pacer’ will move to Haworth MPD following its retirement from operation on the national network with Northern, which is currently expected to be in late May.
The Class 144 DMU was designed as a lowcost solution to the need to replace some of the original first-generation diesel multiple units, some of which can be found on the KWVR today. It was designed by and built by British Rail and Walter Alexander in 1985 and introduced to passenger service in 1986.
The Class 144 was delivered new to Leeds Neville Hill depot and soon took over train services on the Airedale Line between Leeds/Bradford and Skipton. After electrification of the line in the 1990s, the pacers carried on operating on the Leeds – Lancaster via Skipton service, some right up until December 2019.
What did the officials say?
Matt Stroh, chairman of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society said,
‘Offering a Pacer a home on a West Yorkshire heritage railway is very fitting, because these units have been the mainstay of operation in the area for over three decades. We are very grateful to Porterbrook Leasing for giving us this opportunity.’
Rupert Brennan Brown, Porterbrook’s Head of Communications and Engagement, said:
“We are delighted to be able to support the KWVR by donating a Class 144 Pacer to their operational fleet. These trains were in many ways the saviour of the social railway, so it is fitting that one of these multiple units will continue to serve Keighley, as well as communities along the Worth Valley and visitors to its world famous railway.”
Tim Moody, from the KWVR, said
“We believe that the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway is an ideal home for a Class 144. We appreciate that our wide variety of steam locomotives hauling period carriages will continue to be the main attraction for many visitors, but we also recognise that preservation and history does not standstill or stop at a set point in time. What is considered modern and maybe unloved today is tomorrow’s history and heritage.”
“With only 23 Class 144s ever being built, and having worked in West Yorkshire their entire lives, they are an important part of the story of rail travel in our local area and we believe that with suitable interpretation it will become an interesting and valuable asset which visitors, young and old can continue to ride on and experience, now and in the future. The Class 144 will further the objectives of the Society and I believe will attract new visitors in the future, especially younger generations, which is vitally important for working museums such as ours”.
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